Train derails in Wisconsin, sends 2 cars into river

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A freight train derailed along the Mississippi River in southwestern Wisconsin Thursday, possibly injuring one crew member, emergency officials said.

The train derailed in Crawford County along the Mississippi River at about 12:15 p.m., WKBT-TV reported. About 20 BNSF Railway cars were involved, said Crawford County Emergency Management Specialist Marc Myhre.

Two cars ended up in the river but washed ashore. Hazardous materials believed to be batteries were onboard, but they’ve been contained and don’t pose a threat to the public, officials said. The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office said on its Facebook page that there was no need to evacuate.

BNSF Railway spokesperson Lena Kent said in a statement that two of the train’s three locomotives and an unknown number of cars carrying “freight of all kinds” derailed on the eastern edge of the river. All crew members were accounted for, with one receiving a medical evaluation, she said.

The cause of the derailment is under investigation, Kent said. She did not immediately respond to a follow-up email inquiring about whether batteries were on board and whether the derailment has resulted in any environmental contamination.

The Federal Railroad Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation that regulates safety across the nation’s railroads, tweeted that it was sending a team to the site to gather information and help local emergency workers.

Gov. Tony Evers tweeted that he was briefed on the derailment and is getting regular updates from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the Department of Natural Resources and state emergency management officials. His spokesperson, Britt Cudaback, said in a short telephone interview that it wasn’t clear if any environmental contamination has happened.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Katie Grant did not immediately respond to an email asking if the derailment has resulted in any environmental contamination.

The derailment comes almost three months after a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. Officials there decided to release and burn toxic vinyl chloride from five tanker cars to prevent a catastrophic explosion.

Hundreds of people had to evacuate in Raymond, Minnesota, last month after a BNSF train hauling ethanol and corn syrup derailed and caught fire.

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